Penang is ideal for an exotic Asian family adventure, full of street art, great food, fun buys and colourful cultural sights. Here are 5 things to do that your kids will love
Getting interactive with the street art of Georgetown (Globalmousetravels.com)
A great way to get kids seeing the sights of Georgetown without even realising the amount of walking they’re doing is to go on a trail of the street art of Penang.
We spent a wonderful afternoon hunting for the most iconic pieces tucked away through the city. Because much of it is interactive, allowing you to sit on a bicycle or have a go on a swing, the children loved getting involved.
The pieces are mainly located around Chinatown and Little India. Start at ‘Little Children on a Bicycle’ mural on Lebuh Armenian. Created by Ernest Zacharevic, it is probably the most famous; I love the pure happiness on the children’s faces. You can do a loop to visit most of the key pieces from here.
A hidden corner in the Tropical Spice Garden (Dreamstime)
The Tropical Spice Garden in Teluk Bahang features over 500 tropical plants from all over the world. It's a great place to spend a few hours among the trees and plants.
There’s an audio tour, so you can learn about the spices and herbs of Penang, and a great cafe for refreshments. My kids loved being able to get lost in the ‘jungle.’
The garden also offers nature education programmes, where kids go on a 5 Senses Tour to learn about the plants in the garden and get time on the giant 3D Slides and Ladders. Parents can relax in the breezy, outdoor café overlooking the Straits of Malacca.
Kids admiring the Buddhas at Kek Lok Si (Globalmousetravels.com)
The Kek Lok Si Temple (or Temple of Supreme Bliss) sits in Air Itam, facing the sea. It's the largest Buddhist temple in Malaysia. It’s also one of the most colourful, and my kids loved it.
The complex is huge, but kids don’t realise that because there are so many stalls selling their wares and lining the walk to the top. The temple itself is mesmerising, with Buddhist statues, clouds of incense and sounds of chanting. My kids particularly like the Buddhas that lined the central walls, surrounded by colourful tropical flowers.
Make sure you take the funicular to the top level. The views from up there are amazing.
Kid drinking from coconut (Dreamstime)
Penang is a wonderful place for a wander, with so many cultural sights and some great places to eat, but kids will always love to spend time at the beach. Head to Batu Ferrenghi (easily reached by the bus) for some really family-friendly stretches of sand.
There are watersports available here and plenty of little stalls to pick up inflatables and buckets and spades. Hawkers wander the beach selling coconuts. Drinking from a fresh coconut was a real thrill for my kids, especially when slicing off the top with a machete was all part of the service.
As night falls, the main street in Batu Ferrenghi transforms into a bustling night market. Give your children a little money each and they will be in their element, picking out little toys and knick-knacks to play with. We all really loved the hustle and bustle of the market, and you can pick up some great bargains.
Peanut pancakes (Globalmousetravels.com)
For something really special to return from your travels with, why not get the kids finding out about the local Nyonya food and learning a recipe to make at home? Pearly Kee offers a range of fantastic courses designed especially for families, and can have you cooking up everything from curry Kapitan to madras and visiting the local markets to try some of the street food too. Taking a Nyonya cooking course in Penang was one of the highlights of our trip.
Penang is also a wonderful place to try different foods. Wandering through the local food markets is a great way to encourage the kids to try out different tastes. Naturally, sweet treats go down best. My kids loved the crunchy peanut pancakes and lovely string hoppers covered with cinnamon.
Globalmouse is run by Nichola West who loves exploring the world with her husband and three kids. They’re always on the lookout for the unusual, and travel everywhere from Russia to the Cook Islands, with lots of European city breaks and UK weekend breaks thrown in too. You can follow their adventures on the Globalmouse website and on Instagram.
Main image: Getting interactive with street art in Penang (Globalmousetravels.com)